How is it possible for our sins to be erased (1 John 4:10)?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of erasing sin from the human record has been a central theme in human spirituality and moral philosophy throughout history. In the Christian faith, the eradication of sin holds profound significance, offering believers hope, redemption, and reconciliation with God. 1 John 4:10 NKJV, succinctly encapsulates the essence of this theological truth: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Through an exploration of Scripture, we can delve into the depths of God’s love and the means by which our sins are erased.

God’s Holiness and Justice

Before delving into the erasure of sins, it is essential to grasp the nature and consequences of sin as portrayed in the Bible. Sin, defined as any violation of God’s moral law (1 John 3:4), separates humanity from God and carries the penalty of spiritual death (Romans 6:23). Throughout Scripture, sin is depicted as a universal condition inherent in human nature (Romans 3:23), manifesting in thoughts, words, and deeds contrary to God’s will.

Central to understanding the erasure of sins is the recognition of God’s holiness and justice. God, depicted throughout Scripture as holy and righteous (Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 89:14), cannot tolerate sin or overlook its consequences. His justice demands that sin be punished (Romans 1:18), ensuring that His moral order is upheld and His character remains unblemished.

The Necessity of Atonement

Given the severity of sin’s consequences and God’s righteous nature, the erasure of sins necessitates atonement—the satisfaction of divine justice and reconciliation between God and humanity. Leviticus 17:11 (NKJV) foreshadows the need for atonement, declaring, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

To erase sin, means that God does not credit the sin to the sinner’s account. The Bible teaches that God not only forgives our sin but also accepts the repentant sinner as if he had never sinned. For the sin has been laid upon Jesus, our substitute “the Lord [a]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV). God doesn’t see our sins but sees the righteousness of Christ our Substitute. David the prophet wrote, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin” (Psalm 85:2).

Throughout the Old Testament, sacrificial offerings served as temporary measures to atone for sin, providing a glimpse of the ultimate atonement to come through Christ. Hebrews 10:4 (NKJV) explains, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Instead, Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross served as the ultimate atonement, satisfying God’s justice and offering forgiveness and reconciliation to humanity (Hebrews 9:12).

The Propitiation for Our Sins

At the heart of 1 John 4:10 lies the concept of propitiation—a term that denotes the appeasement or satisfaction of divine wrath through a sacrificial offering. Christ, as the Son of God, became the propitiation for our sins through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Romans 3:25 (NKJV) elucidates this truth, stating, “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”

Through His sacrificial death, Christ bore the penalty of sin on behalf of humanity, satisfying God’s justice and reconciling us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). This act of divine love demonstrates God’s initiative in erasing our sins, not based on our merit or righteousness but on His boundless grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Repentance

There is only one basis for the forgiveness of sin and that is “repentance.” The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV). Forgiveness takes place only when it is coupled by repentance. Some Christians confuse the two processes and seek for forgiveness on the confession of sin alone. But God asks for a repentant heart. The sinner has to expel sin from his life by the power of God. Then, forgiveness follows this act of abandoning sin.

Some Christians work hard on keeping their sins “confessed up to date,” not realizing that forgiveness doesn’t take place unless there is a real change in the life and sin has been forsaken by the mighty power of God (Luke 1:37). The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin in the life. Before this precious gift can be given, the old, inherited and cultivated sins must be put aside by the grace of God (Philippians 4:13).

This was the experience of David. It was on this basis that he obtained forgiveness for his great sin. His repentance was genuine. His prayer was: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10, 11, NKJV).

The Role of Faith

While Christ’s atoning sacrifice provides the basis for the erasure of sins, the appropriation of this redemption requires faith on the part of the individual. Romans 3:22-25 (NKJV) elucidates the role of faith in justification, stating, “Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe… whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith.”

Faith involves trust and reliance on Christ’s finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. This faith is not merely intellectual assent but a heartfelt surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). Through faith, believers receive the imputed righteousness of Christ and are declared righteous in God’s sight (Philippians 3:9).

The Transformative Power of Love

Central to understanding the erasure of sins is the profound love of God manifested in Christ’s sacrificial death. 1 John 4:10 emphasizes God’s initiative in erasing our sins, rooted not in humanity’s love for God but in God’s love for us. This divine love, characterized by selflessness and sacrifice, serves as the catalyst for redemption and reconciliation.

Furthermore, God’s love is transformative, shaping believers’ hearts and empowering them to love others sacrificially (1 John 4:11). Romans 5:5 (NKJV) affirms this truth, stating, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, the erasure of sins as depicted in 1 John 4:10 reflects the profound depths of God’s love and the redemptive work accomplished through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Through His sacrificial death, Christ became the propitiation for our sins, satisfying God’s justice and reconciling us to Himself. This redemption is appropriated through faith, which involves trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. May we continually marvel at the magnitude of God’s love and respond with gratitude and devotion, living lives transformed by the power of His love and grace.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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